The cult of performance: what are we doing when we don't know what we are doing?

Robert Burke (Robert Burke is a Program Director at Mt Eliza Business School, Sydney, Australia. E‐mail:


ISSN: 1463-6689

Publication date: 1 February 2004


Executive development and education have proceeded on the basis of two developments as a result of shifts in government policy over the past two decades. The first is marketisation, the belief that marketplace ideology is best, and the belief that the private sector functions better and more rationally than the public sector. The second is performance, the belief that performance can be controlled. It is argued that these trends are myths that have developed into the performance cult. This paper argues that even knowing you cannot be in control doesn't stop you trying to be in control, but understanding what is happening enables us to stay active in negotiating our daily lives moment by moment.



Robert Burke (2004) "The cult of performance: what are we doing when we don't know what we are doing?", Foresight, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 47-56

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